Boxing is a brutal business.
It’s one of, if not the only sport where your status is so dependant on your next result — and one where one mistake can be so emphatically punished.
In boxing you’re only ever as good as your next fight, not the one that’s just come and gone.
Everything hinges on the possibility of the next defeat, the looming spectre of which dogs a fighter’s every foray into the ring.
Tim Tszyu is no different, but right now he is answering those questions as emphatically as any other boxer in the world.
Tszyu’s stunning victory over Dennis Hogan in Newcastle was far from the formality he made it appear.
Hogan, a 32-fight veteran who twice challenged for a world title and probably should have won one of them, has mixed it with world champions.
He could not mix it with Tszyu.
From early in the contest the dispassionate, steely gaze of Tszyu masked any anxiety he might be feeling about the biggest test of his career.
Tszyu’s efficient, upright stance made the busier Hogan appear nervous as he darted about in front of him.
There was more than a little resemblance to the yapping dog pointlessly worrying at the feet of Robert Patrick’s liquid cyborg killer from Terminator 2 as it advanced to cold-heartedly rip its collar from its neck.
The stunningly calm approach to the fight barely wavered throughout, even in the face of potential disaster, underlining just how confident Tszyu is in his ability.
The cut that opened up after an accidental clash of heads in the second round could have derailed even the most experienced competitor.
With blood pooling around Tszyu’s left eye, obscuring the bludgeoning overhand rights coming his way from the canny Irishman, some degree of panic would not have been unreasonable.
But panic is not in Tszyu’s DNA. He fights without fear.
Calmly and methodically, his team went to work in the corner, stemming the bleeding as best they could.
That the bleeding continued did not appear to phase Tszyu at as he went to work in the ring.
Reports all week had told of Tszyu dropping sparing partners to their knees with well-aimed body shots.
It did not take long for Tszyu to pummel Hogan’s liver with punishing blows that visibly caused the Irishman to wilt in front of him, sapping him of energy.
It wasn’t just the accuracy, but the power Tszyu was able to generate, connecting with Hogan’s vulnerable flesh with thunderous impunity.
This was a wounded Tszyu — he needed to earn a stoppage and earn one quickly, so isolated a weakness that his increasingly muscular frame can brutally exploited.
That Tszyu could respond to a challenge, and answer it just as emphatically as he has accounted for all his other opponents in recent times, outlines just how far he has come, showing where he could yet go.
Tszyu’s next level should be for the WBO world title.
The complication is that Brian Castaño, holder of the WBO belt, wants to unify the division against Jermell Charlo, who holds the other three recognised belts.
So where does that leave Tszyu?
Probably scouring the rankings for another worthy opponent.
There will likely be clamour for an all-Australian fight against Michael Zarafa, but Tszyu has clearly left Zarafa behind, despite the 28-4 man demanding otherwise.
The only chance of there being a Zerafa grudge match would be to keep Tszyu sharp while the scene above him sorts itself out — and the absence of any other opponents willing to come to Australia.
But Tszyu should not be thinking about Australia right now.
He should be casting his gaze further afield, to challenging those top-10 ranked fighters like British fighter Liam Smith, or Russian pair Bakhram Murtazaliev and Magomed Kurbanov.
Tszyu can afford to look forwards now, and dream of titles.